FurnitureConsignment.com Blog

Take the Pledge: I Will Not Use That Product on my Furniture!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, December 08, 2018 @ 10: 52 AM

 

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“Hmmmm,” our furniture repairman said with a frown as he studied the surface of a mahogany dining table in our showroom. “There’s a lot of gunk here. I just wish more people knew how to take care of their furniture.”

Our repairman is an expert at restoring furniture. Scratches and stains vanish under his careful attention, and he usually succeeds in bringing back the gleam that a piece had when it was fresh from the woodworker’s bench. Not every piece is worth the cost of his time and expertise, but some are. His TLC is good for the furniture and good for the consignor who typically gets a higher price for their piece.

Fine furniture deserves careful maintenance. Keep yours looking its best with these tips from our expert:

Quality furniture is carefully finished at the factory. Skilled woodworkers put down layer upon layer of a vibrant protective finish in a multi-step process. You don’t need any additional protection or moisturizer to preserve your furniture.

These finishes are flexible. Wood expands and contracts in your home as humidity levels rise and fall throughout the seasons. Factory finishes are designed to stretch and compress with the wood. Of course, you don’t want your furniture baking in direct sunlight over a prolonged period. Closing the blinds or regularly rotating pieces when possible will delay the breakdown of these finishes over time.

Vigorous dusting can scratch your furniture. Dust acts like sandpaper when it is rubbed into a finish. So don’t let dust build up. Scratches typically don’t penetrate beyond the surface into the wood, so most can be buffed out. But this is best left to professionals who have the know-how and the equipment. Buffing typically strips off the top layer of finish. Once that layer is removed, your table will look like new again.

Our repairman has a pet peeve, though: Pledge.

Yes, Pledge, that ubiquitous yellow can of lemony spray beloved by homeowners since the 1950s. Pledge claims to be an oil that moisturizes, cleans and protects, and, to be sure, it does lay down a pretty decent shine for a few days.

So what’s the problem? For one, it doesn’t protect your furniture. The factory took care of that. Pledge imparts a temporary shine, but it also leaves an oily residue that shows fingerprints and attracts dust. Should your furniture get scratched, your repairman will have to remove that gunk before he can get to work.

Which is why our repairman was grumbling as he surveyed that tabletop. “I’ve got to wash this goo off with mineral oil,” he said, grimly staring at a dark, sticky film. “What a mess!”

So toss that yellow can from your cleaning-supply closet. To clean your furniture, simply dampen a clean soft cloth with water. Using circular strokes, wipe the piece down. You’ll preserve your furniture – and your wallet will thank you, too.

Christmas Carols for Five Weeks? Can I Hear a Big Ho, Ho, No?

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, December 03, 2018 @ 10: 46 AM

 

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Let’s face it. The Pilgrims get short shrift. No sooner do we finish carving the turkey than we’re all thrust into the frenzy of Christmas. We haven’t even resolved the light meat-dark meat dilemma or any of the family quarrels before we’re off, dashing through the snow, towards the Really Big Event, Christmas.

Or at least that’s how it felt a few days ago. Prancing up and down the aisles of our Natick store the day after Thanksgiving, our store elves draped garland and ribbon until the place was transformed into a glittering wonderland. Gingerbread houses dotted the mantles. Wreaths hung off every door. Then they fired up the satellite radio. Soon, Christmas tunes were blasting through the showroom.

Within a couple of hours, I was burned out on chestnuts roasting on the open fire. No one seemed to be rockin’ around our Christmas tree. Voices singing, let’s be jolly? Ho, ho, no to that proposal. Baby, it’s cold outside? Frankly, I’d rather suffer the bitter winds of winter than listen to another round of Feliz Navidad.

How long would the torment last? I looked at the calendar. Thanksgiving arrived early this year which lengthens the holiday season to an unendurable five weeks. My inner Grinch suddenly rebelled. “I’ll be in jingle-bell hell if I have to listen to one more hour of carols,” I thought.

The big question, though, would be the elves’ reaction. I took a deep breath and summoned our staffers to an impromptu meeting. “Hey, team,” I said, “how about we kill the Christmas music for a few weeks? You guys good with that?”

Much to my surprise, my proposal had lords a-leaping and ladies dancing all over the showroom. Rob, one of our young staffers, immediately flipped the music back to Jimmy Buffet. Frosty, the Snowman, melted away in Margaritaville. Sure, we brought him to life and now he was just slushed ice. But he’ll be back again someday.

Just give us a few weeks, please!

Amazon and AmEx: Small Business Killers Don a Holiday Disguise on ‘Small Biz Saturday’

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 24, 2018 @ 09: 03 AM

 

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Thank heaven for Amazon. Before the rise of the retailing giant, I was always racing to the store for duct tape or office supplies. Now, I’m a pretty devoted online shopper. When a brown box shows up on my front porch, I’m grateful. For a small fee, Amazon saves me hours of wandering the vast fluorescent-lit aisles of Home Depot or Staples. 

Still, it’s hard for me to feel good about Amazon’s newfound support of small business. The retail giant recently launched a merchandising program that will highlight its small-and mid-sized business sellers this holiday season. Amazon seems to want to cash in on the goodwill generated by the hugely successful Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a shopping event created eight years ago by American Express as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In contrast, Small Business Saturday – always two days after Thanksgiving – is meant to encourage folks to patronize small and local brick-and-mortar retailers. The event helps some shops ring up enough cash to stay in business. 

Still, I must confess: Small Business Saturday makes me a little cranky. 

Long before the launch of Small Business Saturday, there’s been tension between small business and American Express. That’s because AmEx charges higher fees than Visa, Mastercard and all those rewards cards are subsidized by your local Mom and Pop shops. Many small retailers operate with extremely thin profit margins, and credit-card fees can make the difference between barely surviving and thriving. 

And while I love the convenience of Amazon, it’s hard to ignore the fact that millions of small and mid-sized businesses have been crushed by the retail giant. This holiday season, Amazon says it intends to highlight its small business partners. My guess is that for every shop it promotes, Amazon is helping to kill off five others. 

Consider this little-known strategy: small businesses must wait for over three months to get their money from sales generated through Amazon. Yep, Amazon has over $3.7 billion in accounts payable. How many small shops die waiting for that check? This equates to what is essentially a massive interest free loan that further fuels Amazon's growth.

In my view, every day should be a small business day. Consider shopping first at the local businesses that support your children’s sports teams, your neighborhood events and fundraisers that are important to you. Your Turkey Trot was undoubtedly paid for in part by some small shop in your hometown. 

So stop by those local shops and say hello. While you’re there, browse the inventory. Invite your friends, too. You might just enjoy it more than shopping online by the cold blue light of your computer screen.

Procrastinators, FCG Is Ready to Rescue You from Holiday Humiliation!

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 17, 2018 @ 09: 55 AM

 

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The winds were howling, ramming the house with an icy mix of rain and snow and waking me from a sound sleep. It was only mid-November, but winter was delivering a reminder of her ruthless power in the first nor’easter of the year. 

And, speaking of power, that’s what we lost minutes later. As the house fell silent, I knew we were in trouble. No power meant more than just a cold breakfast. No power meant no sump pump. Without it, the basement would flood within an hour. 

I’d planned for just such a crisis – but not fast enough. I bought a back-up generator a few days ago. I hired an electrician, but he wasn’t scheduled to get to our job for a week. I needed a quick, creative solution. 

In FCG’s warehouse, I knew we had a small spare generator. But that was ten miles away, and the storm wasn’t subsiding. A job like this required a partner, so I woke Diana. We lifted the garage door manually and took off down the sleet-slick streets. 

The warehouse was filled with beautiful pieces of furniture but it, too, was without power and dark. Somewhere in there was the generator. Armed with a flashlight, I peered under dressers and dining room tables. The clock was ticking. I could imagine water trickling into the basement back home.

Suddenly, I spotted the generator – behind a giant mahogany executive desk. We hurried to wiggle it free, then heaved into the car. As we raced home, I worried: would it start? Generators can be notoriously cranky. But luck was with me. The generator sprang into action with a reassuring hum. I connected the sump pump and it gurgled into action. 

By then, it was 3 a.m. Heaving a sigh of relief, Diana and I climbed back into bed. A few minutes later, power was restored. 

So maybe you’re like me and you almost got your act together. Maybe you’ve invited a houseful of guests for a big feast and you suddenly realize that the old dining set just won’t do. Maybe you don’t even have a dining set and the alternative – wobbly card tables borrowed from the neighbors – is just too awful to contemplate. 

Well, even the best laid plans go awry from time to time. Just remember: FCG is here for you. Our showrooms are full of dining sets in every size and style so you don’t have to ask your uncle to perch on a lawn chair with a plate of turkey in his lap even if it would serve him right after all the lame-o jokes about your cooking. 

And if you can help me quickly wire a generator, let me know.

Thanksgiving Menu 2018: Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Some Sturdy Furniture

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 10, 2018 @ 02: 32 PM

 

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Buckle up, folks. It’s T-12, and everyone’s already on edge.

By that, I mean we’ve got just twelve more days till Thanksgiving, that gluttonous national holiday when families gather around the dining table to gnaw on some turkey while waging verbal combat over politics, religion, sports and any number of other formerly innocuous topics. Even the weather is off-limits with the looming threat of global warming.

So what topic is safe? Admittedly, there are very few.

Consider what happened to my family a few years ago. We’d driven sixteen hours to Kentucky to spend the holiday with Diana’s family. I stayed awake by listening to radio talk shows. One, in particular, inspired me. Thanksgiving, the host proclaimed, was the perfect time to discuss end-of-life issues with older relatives.

So I decided to broach that topic with my in-laws over pumpkin pie. "Have you made your final plans?” I asked cheerfully.

"Glad you asked!" Papa, an Army veteran, said forcefully. "I've given this some thought. And I'd like my ashes to be spread over Nancy."

His wife – Diana’s step-mother – is named Becky.

Pandemonium erupted.

Startled, Papa hastily explained that Nancy, Kentucky is the home to one of the nation’s oldest national cemeteries. Some 4,000 veterans are buried there, and he wants to be one of them.

My advice: be prepared this Thanksgiving. After all, we’re a divided nation.

Short of issuing a gag order to your most outspoken family members, I think the best defense is to make sure your furniture is sturdy enough to survive the fray. Depending on the heat of the topic, your gathering may include some banging on the table or upending of chairs. A really rampaging relative may start jumping on the sofa. If you're making purchases this weekend, think for a moment that discount furniture might not make it to desert.

For the best selection of high-quality, well-made pre-owned furniture in New England, stop by one of our three stores this weekend. In honor of Papa and all veterans, FCG is offering all shoppers 15% off any item in our showrooms now through Monday.

*Image from "Cheers" television show.

Downsizers Alert: There’s a Limited Market for Furniture Bought during the Reagan Years

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sun, November 04, 2018 @ 12: 16 PM

 

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She whipped into our showroom like the first bitter winds of winter. With her black designer trench coat billowing behind her, she darted from one piece of furniture to another, frowning and shaking her head in disbelief. 

Normally, I like to welcome our customers to our stores, but something told me to seek shelter from this storm. She was a nor’easter about to unleash her fury on FCG. “There is nothing here as nice as my furniture,” she spat at me when I finally worked up the courage to approach her. “How dare you reject my furniture for consignment!” 

To prove her point, she shoved her phone at me and started scrolling through photos of her home’s interior. Oh, yes, suddenly I remembered her. She had contacted FCG a few weeks ago as she was beginning the task of downsizing her large, lavishly furnished home. She’d wanted to consign every piece of furniture, all of which she’d bought in the mid-1980s. 

“What is wrong with you?” she demanded. “These are classics.” She pointed to a photo of her dark cherry Queen Anne-style dining room set. It was a classic, I silently agreed – back when Ronald Reagan was President. “Now, that’s quality!” she barked. She flipped to another photo of her bedroom set, a thirty-five-year-old clunker with a triple dresser, a tri-fold mirror, and chunky handles. 

“M’am,” I interrupted cautiously, but she was not going to be stopped. Next in her photo stream was a massive armoire, so large it could have been used as a bank vault. We haven’t had one on the showroom floor in years, in part because they require their own zip code in a house. 

“M’am,” I tried again as gently as possible. “Our customers prefer –” She narrowed her eyes and glared indignantly at me. “Prefer what!?!” she retorted, waving her hand dismissively at the showroom. “This stuff?” 

“Madam,” I said firmly, “with all due respect, your furniture is out-of-date. No longer in style. Passé. Old.”

She looked at me, clearly astonished. “Old?” Our entire store quaked as she teetered on the edge of confusion and fury. Then, as quickly as she’d roared into the store, she melted. “Out-of-date?” she said, finally facing the painful truth.

She retreated from the showroom in a daze. Downsizing is a process full of difficult truths. One of the hardest: your furniture, circa 1980, just isn’t appealing to the millennials who are flocking to FCG, eager to furnish their first homes. 

She headed for the parking lot with somewhat less energy, muttering to herself: “What is wrong with these millennials?”

Right or Left? Soccer or CCD? Batman or Superman? Life’s Important Questions

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 27, 2018 @ 11: 35 AM

 

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As I sped out of the parking lot of our store in Hanover, I realized I had a major parental decision to make. Sitting next to me was Robbie, our ten-year-old. On his way out of the store, he’d grabbed two lollipops from the jar on the counter. Now, he was contentedly sucking on both at the same time. Two white lollipop sticks were protruding from his mouth like fangs.  

 Just before turning onto busy Washington Street, I stopped. Should I take a right or a left?

 A right would take him to CCD, his religious education class at our local parish. He’d be five minutes late, but he’d probably get a good dollop of the Ten Commandments. A left turn would take him to soccer practice where he’d be fifteen minutes early.

 Either way, I needed to make a speedy decision. His brother’s soccer game at the high school had already started, and I wanted to catch the second half. I glanced over at Robbie who seemed oblivious to my dilemma.

That rambunctious redhead had already put in six hours of hard labor in the classroom. Then, he’d spent an hour hanging around our store while his parents attended to the family business. Now, I could tell, that kid needed to run. Don’t judge me harshly, God, but we’re going to take a pass on spiritual enlightenment in favor of kicking a ball around a field.  

 Decision made: soccer practice.

 As I peeled off to the left, Robbie beamed, gleefully aware he’d dodged a dreary hour of moral instruction in the church basement. I recall that feeling. I suddenly remembered riding my bike to the five-and-dime with my pal, Patrick, where we’d pick up a pack of gum and some trading cards. On the way back, we’d argue over who would win the battle of titans, Superman or Batman.

 “Robbie,” I said impulsively. “Superman or Batman?”

Robbie rolled his eyes dismissively. “Dad,” he said. “Superman’s dead. Batman killed him.” I was shocked and, in a way, devastated. I had no idea the great debate had been resolved. I’d always rooted for Superman. Robbie hammered another nail in the superhero coffin. “Batman used Kryptonite,” he added.

Then, Robbie lobbed a question back at me. “Dad,” he said, “Iron Man or Captain America?”

I was stumped. With all the responsibilities of running a business and raising a family, I’d lost touch with the world of superheros. “Robbie,” I admitted, “I haven’t a clue.”

If I had super powers, I’d give almost anything for one more day as a ten-year-old. Robbie, I thought, as he leaped out of the car, enjoy every minute.

In the Furniture Business, We Have Nothing to Fear from Trump’s Tariffs

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 20, 2018 @ 09: 29 AM

 

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Fear is contagious – even more, perhaps, than any germ. 

Consider the swine flu panic of 2009. For six months, the U.S. was gripped with fear of a possible epidemic. Though actual cases were rare, Americans anticipated the worst. At church, our priest advised us not to shake hands with our neighbors during Mass, as per tradition, but just to wave to each other. It was awkward, to say the least, and unnecessary. 

That’s been on my mind a lot this week because fear is rampant in the furniture business. At High Point, North Carolina, at the recent furniture industry convention, attendees were grim. The focus of their anxiety? The Section 301 tariff.

The Trump administration plans to impose tariffs of up to 25% on a broad range of products made in China, including furniture. Trump intends to punish China for what the administration sees as unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property. 

What does this mean for you, the consumer? 

First, a note of caution. Beware of fear-mongering. Some big furniture retailers are trying to scare consumers into buying quickly with the threat that prices are going up and supplies will be limited. Amid the confusion, those retailers are hoping to make a quick buck. 

Stay calm, folks. For years, most large furniture manufacturers have been moving operations out of China into other less expensive places such as Vietnam. Those who still manufacture in China are racing to ship their finished goods out before the tariffs take effect on January 1st. 

In my opinion, new-furniture prices are likely to stay flat. There may be some short delays in product deliveries until the furor abates, but that will likely be a matter of only a few weeks. 

Who could benefit from the tariffs?

It’s possible they could be a boon for smaller furniture-makers who manufacture in the U.S. Many of these companies hope their bottom lines will benefit from price increases and product shortages on goods from China. Section 302 could help those who pride themselves on products made in America. 

One important thing to keep in mind: there are no tariffs on quality pre-owned furniture. So stop by and check out the vast selection at FCG.

Paralyzed by Decorating Indecision? Here are Some Tips to Help

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 13, 2018 @ 08: 18 AM

 

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“I’m afraid to make a mistake.” 

Judging from her expression, that was an understatement. She wasn’t merely afraid of a decorating faux pas, she was petrified and, as a result, paralyzed. Standing in our showroom, she looked like she was about to cry. 

Her anxiety was understandable. Now that the kids were grown, she and her husband were moving from the big empty colonial to a townhouse in a golf community. “He’s worked hard all his life and this is what he wants,” she said. “I want him to be happy.” 

Her expression betrayed her true feelings, though. She, too, was ready for a change, but was this was the right change? Her mind was churning with worry. Would they miss the old neighborhood? Would they make new friends?

All those unspoken anxieties were fueling her decorating paralysis. Should she repaint the blue wall in the new kitchen? The floors in the new house were a yellowish oak; her dining room table is a rich espresso color. Would that combo look weird? 

Even more importantly, how could she artfully integrate certain pieces of furniture from her colonial into a townhouse designed for casual living? 

At FCG, she got not only a sympathetic ear, but some valuable tips to help her make the transition with less stress. Since many of you might be thinking of a similar move in the future, I thought we’d share our collective wisdom.

1. First, relax. Decorating to please your new neighbors would be a mistake. Your home should be a reflection of you, a refuge that comforts you like a cozy blanket.

2. Don’t buy upholstery online. Tempting though that may be, you will want a sofa that’s comfortable. How will you know? Sit on it. Sprawl like you will during the Super Bowl. You can’t make decisions on comfort from an online photo.

3. Buy quality. Trendy looks are fun but there’s nothing quite like a well-made piece of furniture. Yes, quality is more expensive, but you’ll never regret it. You will, however, be full of regret when the cheap foam-filled sofa sags or that chair breaks under the weight of a guest at Thanksgiving.

4. Embrace color. Consider a dash of orange or cobalt blue. Have fun. What happens when you’re frozen with fear? You play it safe: white walls, gray sofa. That’s blah.

5. Don’t replace, restore. Take some of the most meaningful pieces of furniture with you to your new home. Then, give those pieces a fresh look by painting, refinishing or reupholstering.

6. Feature your family. Nothing is more intriguing than family photos. Frame them tastefully, place them strategically. You can’t go wrong when you center your decorating around those who mean the most to you.

A Casting Call in Boston Pits One Twin Against the Other

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 06, 2018 @ 01: 24 PM

 

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“Why me?”

Brad, manager of our store in Plymouth, was asking that question with utter delight. He’d been chosen as an extra in a movie being filmed this fall in Boston starring a most famous actress, whom he adores. He and his identical twin brother had tried out for parts, but only he had been chosen.

So when he had the chance to ask the director why he made the cut – and not his brother – he pounced gleefully. Surely, the director would allude to his dashing good looks. Maybe he had an unrealized but extraordinary gift for acting. The director might even say that he was so photogenic that it’s a miracle he hadn’t been discovered sooner.

Brad was eager to know so he could lord it over his disappointed brother, Ron.

At FCG, we’ve enjoyed the antics of these rivalrous twins for more than a decade. Brad has been store manager in Plymouth since 2013. Ron is one of the top salespeople at our store in Natick. Both are outrageously talented in interior design and our customers love them. But pit them against each other in a contest, and the daggers come out. Elegant daggers, of course.

Consider FCG’s Christmas tree contest of 2016. Competitive tree decorating is a tradition that pits our three stores against each other to win the prize for designing the most fabulous tree. Brad and Ron led top-secret missions to secure the title for their stores, with results that were over-the-top. Snowflakes as big as parasols? Yup, that was Brad. The guy who was peaking in the window, spying, while Brad worked away? Yup, Ron.

So of course sparks would fly when they decided to vie for roles in the movie. They’d seen an ad in the local paper and decided to give it a shot. On the set, the talent scout sized up the two, then pointed to Brad, adding "I think we can use him.”

Ron was devastated. The two didn’t speak to each other on the ride home. But Brad was already broadcasting the news far and wide. He called me to let me know he would need a day off to get fitted for his costume. He’d also been told to grow a beard. “Right away!” he replied eagerly. “My whiskers will be ready!”

A few days later, Brad was sitting with the talent scout, the makeup artist and costume designer, and he couldn’t help but ask the question. “Why me and not my identical twin?” The talent scout grabbed her computer to check out a photo of the two. “Well, she said bluntly, “we need an older looking man.”

Brad’s heart sank. Older looking than his twin? Despite his careful skin-care regime? He left his fitting deflated. Minutes later, he got a call from his brother. “They want me!” Ron crowed. Apparently, the talent scout thought he’d be perfect for the role of a gentleman in a tuxedo sitting in the front row of a theater. Meanwhile, Brad found out he was cast as a bum sitting in the rafters.

“It’s all my fault.” Brad complained. “Why did I ask! Because of me, Ron has the better role – and he’ll be only a few feet away from my leading lady.”

Our days are never dull at Furniture Consignment Gallery. If you’re not entertained by our ever-changing inventory, then come just to visit our new resident movie stars. Ron and Brad are always worth the price of admission.